Food trucks slow down amid parking woes

After a glam, breezy start, the business has run into many hurdles in Bengaluru

Nicolas Grossemy, who serves at Le Casse Croute, says food truck regulations must be clear and transparent.

Food trucks were all the rage when they first appeared on Bengaluru roads, but they aren’t.

From lack of parking to vague municipal rules, their woes are many.

Deepti Bhatnagar is the owner of Foodee Adda, on the road since 2016. She finds doing business in Bengaluru challenging.

“The biggest challenge is that we are not stationed. It is also our biggest advantage as we can take part in events anywhere,” she says.

Foodee Adda has had to deal with police objections. The truck, with its spacious interiors, calls for a large slot to park. “And we need a driver for any navigation,” says Deepti.

The truck is currently parked near Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Hennur.

“Most trucks have stopped parking on roads and are dependent on tech park events, where space is allotted. The food truck is often hit during May-June because of the weather. Things are unpredictable,” she says.

Online food delivery platforms and applications have helped boost business though.

Bready Steady Go, which serves a three-course bread meal, has been in business since 2017.

“We have our own challenges. Since the year of launch, we have seen a dip in business by 20 per cent. May to July, or the exam season, is tough for us,” observes Rohith Bhanuprakash, partner.

The truck is always parked inside a private complex or in a car park.

“Finding space even for a car is a huge problem. Finding space for a truck, and also managing sales and customers, is not easy,” says Rohith.

The whole point of a food truck is that it can move around but that purpose is lost in Bengaluru.

“It is smoother to own a store here. At most events, food trucks are charged Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. The hosts guarantee a turnout of 10,000, when just some hundreds turn up,” he says.

Bready Steady Go was parked near Jayanagar 4th Block till recently; it will soon move to VV Puram.

Despite Bengaluru being welcoming of new concepts, it is still not food-truck ready, muses Rohith.

Nicolas Grossemy, director and co-founder of Le Casse Croute truck, agrees the going is unsteady.

“Everything was great when we launched in 2015 but we had to limit business a bit after a year. There is no clarity about regulations for food trucks,” he says.

The police started booking the truck not just for parking but also for carrying cooking gas inside.

“We are not just a vehicle transporting goods, so we were classified under mobile canteens,” he says.

Nicolas started a brick and mortar outlet in New Thippasandra because he wanted secure work.

“Our truck is functional but our business has dropped by 50 per cent,” he says.

Some trucks like The Spitfire BBQ Truck, which has been around since 2014, have survived the odds.

Siddhanth Sawkar, co-owner, agrees parking is a big concern.

“There are certain locations where food trucks are welcome, while at others we have conflicts with residents associations and the police. It is really challenging to park at places like Indiranagar and Kammanahalli,” he says.

An influx of trucks made the business more competitive in the last couple of years.

“Soon enough, the bubble burst and it’s just a handful of trucks left now. Many started off after seeing the glam quotient and the media coverage but lack of experience led to trucks shutting down,” he says.

Not all residents’ associations were helpful, and the police were always slapping petty cases against food truck owners.

“We saw a drop in business in 2017, but the Telugu film ‘Pelli Choopulu’ helped by popularising the concept of food trucks in the south. We opened a franchise in Hyderabad and survived through it. We just kept pushing and made sure we were at events,” says Siddhanth.

Siddhanth Sawkar Co-owner, The Spitfire BBQ Truck: "People look at the trucks and think it is easy to do business but we have a lot of overheads. Downtime is involved if the vehicle is old. The more the downtime, the less the business.”
 

Not a smooth ride

Agonies
- Finding parking not easy
- No clear regulations
- Cops chase them away

Joys
- Can go anywhere
- Tech parks welcome them
- Rock shows are biz time

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